The largest show on Broadway opened in New York on Wednesday, January 29th when the city turned over a 3/4 mile stretch of Midtown for a “Super Bowl Boulevard” street fair, drawing thousands of locals and visitors.
The event, part of the build-up to Sunday’s National Football League championship game, gave football fans and the simply curious a chance to see players, try their luck at kicking a field goal in Manhattan’s intense wind or ride a 60-foot-high (18-meter-high) toboggan run. (REUTERS)
The National Football League is down to its version of the ‘Elite Eight’ as we approach this weekend’s divisional playoff round. Four teams each from the American and National conferences will try to take another step closer to Super Bowl XLVIII Feb. 2.
Saturday’s contests include Seattle hosting New Orleans in the first NFC semifinal. From a playoff history perspective, these two teams met back on January 8, 2011 in an NFC wild-card game. Sporting a 7-and-9 won-loss record to capture the NFC West that season, the Seahawks won a wild contest, 41-36, which included an incredible 67-yard touchdown run by Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
Fast-forward to this season and the Seahawks had their way with New Orleans, beating Drew Brees and the Saints, 34-7, on Dec. 2.
Despite that outcome, the Saints have some momentum coming into this game. They finally won a road playoff game last Saturday against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, Seattle’s 12th man – the home crowd – and some opportunistic defense on the part of the top-rated Seahawks will be enough to prevail in this playoff contest.
Saturday’s game will be televised on Fox beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.
The New England Patriots will play host to the Indianapolis Colts in Saturday’s nightcap. The last time these two franchises met in the playoffs, Peyton Manning was still quarterbacking the Colts and led them to a come-from-behind victory over New England in the 2006 AFC championship game in Indianapolis.
Now second-year quarterback Andrew Luck is the field general in Indy. Luck cemented his place in Colts lore after leading Indianapolis to a wild-card win over the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend. The Colts overcame a 28-point second half deficit to advance in the AFC.
Like the Saints, Indianapolis benefits slightly from having played a game last weekend. But New England head coach Bill Belichick and his staff have had the time to game plan for the Colts. The Patriots have developed a solid running game – namely LeGarrette Blount – that can handle poor weather conditions, which are expected Saturday night. Thus, Tom Brady and the Pats get the pick here.
CBS will televise the Patriots and Colts, beginning at 8:15 p.m. Eastern time Saturday.
Sunday starts off with the San Francisco 49ers traveling to Carolina to take on the Panthers in an NFC Divisional round game.
Earlier this season, Carolina edged the Niners in San Francisco, 10-9. The Panthers defense shut out San Francisco’s offense in the second half of the game.
This will the first time these former NFC West division rivals have met in the playoffs. The Panthers lead the overall series, 11-7.
Expect a few more points to be scored this time around with both Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers and the Panthers’ Cam Newton creating some offense with their arms and legs. According to NFL.com stats, both teams are good at running with the football and stopping the run. So, this one will come down to passing. Carolina All-Pro receiver Steve Smith is injured while the 49ers Michael Crabtree returned last weekend to help them beat the Packers. San Francisco will edge out the Panthers for a second road playoff victory in two weeks.
The Panthers-49ers contest will air on Fox, starting at 1 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.
The final game of the weekend will be the third installment of an AFC West Division rivalry as the Denver Broncos host the San Diego Chargers. These teams split the two regular season meetings with the road team winning each game.
Peyton Manning has led the Broncos offense this season to record-breaking heights. Manning threw for 5,407 yards and 55 touchdown passes this season, besting Tom Brady’s mark of 50 set back in 2007. Denver’s offense also scored the most points in a season in the history of the NFL, with 606.
The Chargers have been playing their own version of ‘Survivor’ at the end of this current season. On the final Sunday of the regular season, San Diego had to hope two other teams would lose, then beat the Kansas City Chiefs in their finale just to have a shot at the postseason.
Then, San Diego traveled to chilly Cincinnati last weekend and defeated the Bengals in an AFC wild-card playoff game. There should be no shortage of confidence for the Chargers as they get set to meet the No. 1 seed in the AFC. However, with Manning at the controls of a potent Broncos offense, Denver should advance to host the AFC championship game on Jan. 19.
The Denver-San Diego AFC divisional playoff game will be broadcast by CBS, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.
While a select few National Football League (NFL) teams have seemingly clinched a spot in the postseason, the majority are still fighting to remain relevant in the playoff hunt.
The Seattle Seahawks (10-1), Indianapolis Colts (7-3), and Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) have big leads on the rest of their division opponents and are hoping a few more victories will help to crown them division champions.
The New Orleans Saints (8-2) and Denver Broncos (9-1) are on their way to the playoffs, but have the Carolina Panthers (7-3) and Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) breathing down their necks for divisional supremacy.
The Chiefs became the last unbeaten to fall as they lost last Sunday night and are hoping to jump right back aboard the winning train at 1 p.m. Eastern time at home against the San Diego Chargers (4-6) at Arrowhead Stadium. Although losing to the Broncos in Denver may not raise the alarm, what may start to trouble Chiefs fans is the offense’s inability to generate big plays and put numbers on the board.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith’s inability to throw the ball down the field is once again under scrutiny as the team managed only one play on offense that netted more than 30 yards, a rush by running back Jamaal Charles. Alex Smith told reporters at the Miami Herald that it may not be big plays, but consistency, that will take the Chiefs offense to the next level.
“I think the biggest thing is getting into a rhythm,” Smith said, “moving some chains, getting consecutive plays ran, getting into the flow of the game, changing field position at a minimum. I think that’s where it starts.”
The Chiefs may not have to worry about playing catch-up like they did last week as they host the Chargers who are looking for a win in order to remain in the running for the last wild card spot. Since starting 4-3, the Chargers have lost their last three straight. With four of their last six games remaining against probable playoff teams, a loss will likely knock them out of contention. The Chargers will need to treat their division match-up this week as a must-win or else it might be lights out for the team.
The NFC East has heated up considerably since the first quarter of the season and this Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. Eastern time showdown between the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) and the New York Giants (4-6) will go a long way in deciding who wins the division.
The Giants seemed all but an afterthought after their 0-6 start, but have since won four straight and jumped back into contention. The team is doing it with their defense, giving up less than 12 points a game in their four wins compared with the almost 35 they were giving up in their first six losses.
And while Giants quarterback Eli Manning is not winning games single-handedly, he also is not losing them anymore. The quarterback has only thrown two interceptions in the team’s four wins compared with 15 in his first six losses.
Veteran linebacker Jon Beason and the Giants know the importance of winning these division games.
“If we can get that one, we’ll be on our way,” Beason told the NY Times. “It’s going to be a big-time game.”
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo knows the pressure of playing in a big game and fans will hope that the bye week has given their team an advantage. The problem? Romo has lost his last three games coming out of byes. Look for a high-scoring close affair this Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two quarterbacks who have played and won their fair share of big games. This Sunday night marks the 14th match-up between the All-Pro pair as the Broncos travel to New England to face the Patriots at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.
The talk surrounding this game will undoubtedly center on the quarterbacks. Brady, with a career 9-4 record against Manning, is having one of his poorest offensive seasons while Manning might be on his way to setting several records in Denver. This game, however, may not be decided by the quarterbacks, but by the defense and coaching.
Last Monday, the Patriots could not slow down the Carolina Panthers offense, which converted eight of 11 third downs and put up 24 points on the Patriots. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 68% of his passes and ran for another 62 yards against the banged-up Patriots defense.
While Manning will not test the Patriots defense with his legs, he is far and away a more accomplished passer than Newton. On an injured ankle last week, Manning was impressive as ever, throwing for 323 yards and one touchdown. Even more impressive was that the Chiefs defense was not even able to register a single quarterback hit, let alone a sack, for the entire game.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has beaten Manning before and it will come down to whether or not the legendary coach can come up with a scheme that will force Manning to take sacks and make mistakes.
Talkative and revealing as ever about his game plan, Belichick told WEEI Radio, “You have to play good team defense, that’s all there is to it. It’s not just ‘Take one guy away in their offense.’ They have a lot of weapons, they execute very well.”
Belichick knows what it is like to have an excess of talent on offense, which will help him prepare for Manning and company. Fans of all teams will want to tune into this battle of NFL royalty to see which all-time great, Manning or Brady, will walk away with a win in round 14.
Seattle looks like a tough team to beat. After two weeks of the 2013 NFL season, it looks as if the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are the strongest teams in the league. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: AP Sports
SEATTLE (AP) — Richard Sherman celebrated by dancing with cheerleaders, Marshawn Lynch cut, plowed and strolled his way to three touchdowns, and Pete Carroll got one rousing birthday gift.
The awaited NFC West showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers was a one-sided rout.
Lynch scored on touchdown runs of 14 and two yards, and added a seven-yard TD reception in the second half, Seattle flustered Colin Kaepernick into his worst passing game as a starter, and the Seahawks dominated in a 29-3 win Sunday night.
”Every game we feel like we should dominate, and we did,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said.
The game was delayed 60 minutes late in the first quarter when thunderstorms blew through the area. The highly anticipated matchup was sloppy as opposed to sensational, but Lynch more than did his part.
Sun, Sep 15, 2013
Lynch finished with 135 total yards, including 98 yards rushing, to make up for quarterback Russell Wilson hitting on just two of his first 10 throws and Seattle’s receivers struggling to get open. His TD run on the first drive of the second half gave the Seahawks a 12-0 lead. His TD catch pushed the advantage to 19-3 early in the fourth quarter.
”We are dedicated to running the ball and we are going to keep working until we really own it, and we don’t own the running right now like we can. We’ll get better at it,” Carroll said.
This won’t be a game noted for efficiency or execution by either side. There were careless turnovers and untimely penalties. But that was expected between these nasty rivals and the favorites not just in their division but as potential NFC representatives in the Super Bowl.
And it was the Seahawks getting an early, important advantage over the 49ers.
”We did what we expected to. I think you guys expected something different. I think you guys expected something a little more Kaepernick-y,” Sherman said. ”We didn’t expect any of that. We expect guys to play discipline ball.”
Then there was Sherman, Seattle’s ultra-confident All-Pro, who intercepted Kaepernick’s deep sideline pass for Davis with about 13 minutes remaining. He celebrated his first interception of the season by dancing with the Seahawks cheer squad. Steven Hauschka kicked a 37-yard field goal, and the Seahawks’ lead was 22-3 with 11:31 left.
”He should probably stay at cornerback,” Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate joked about Sherman. ”I don’t see a future in that.”
And just because Carroll can’t stop competing, he challenged and won the Seahawks another turnover following a kickoff fumble with 4:15 left and the Seahawks leading by 26.
Wilson finished 8 of 19 passing for 142 yards, one of the worst games in his young career. Kaepernick was 13 of 28 for 127 yards passing, and he ran for another 87 yards. His three interceptions matched his entire season total from 2012. Frank Gore was held to just 16 yards on nine carries, and Anquan Boldin, who tortured Green Bay last week for 13 catches and 208 yards, was targeted just once in the first three quarters. His only catch came with 9:40 remaining.
Boldin was shadowed most of the night by Sherman. It was a request Sherman made following Boldin’s big day a week ago and with the Seahawks minus their other starting cornerback Brandon Browner.
”I asked Coach for the challenge,” Sherman said. ”I wanted to follow him. There were a lot of things said this week.”
The 49ers finished with five turnovers and no TDs in a game for the third time since the start of 1979 season.
”I don’t think any of us are proud of our performance,” San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Leading 5-0 at halftime after a wacky first half of delays and points coming via safety and a field goal, Seattle started the second half going to Lynch. He carried on the first four plays, and when Seattle faced third-and-12, Wilson scrambled and bought time for Doug Baldwin to get open downfield for a 51-yard reception to the 20. After a penalty backed up the Seahawks to the 14, Lynch took an inside handoff and darted nearly untouched for his first touchdown of the season.
Seattle extended the lead later in the half thanks to a careless personal foul penalty from Aldon Smith, slapping the helmet of Seattle’s Breno Giacomini behind the play after Zach Miller and the Seahawks were stopped short on third-and-28. Given another chance, Wilson stayed in the pocket against blitzing safety Craig Dahl on third-and-4 to find Lynch wide open in the left flat. Lynch took a few steps toward the end zone, stopped and waited, and finally crossed the goal line, pushing the lead to 22-3.
”He was saying he just took a couple of seconds off the clock,” Wilson said.
Notes: Seattle played the final three quarters without starting left tackle Russell Okung, who was out with a toe injury. Carroll said he didn’t know the severity. … San Francisco lost nose tackle Ian Williams (ankle) and safety Eric Reid (head) to injuries. Davis also injured a hamstring. … Seattle held San Francisco’s three running backs who carried the ball to 13 total yards on 11 attempts. … The crowd of 68,338 was the largest for a Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org